The luxury industry is perhaps underestimated in terms of its prominence within the global marketplace. And now, in Italy, new developments have led to it getting the spotlight in ways that workers within it may not have entirely expected. After spending decades looking into illegal working conditions with logistics and cleaning services in Italy, Milan prosecutors have recently turned their attention to the luxury industry and have shocked the world with their findings.

During worker exploitation probes into the bowels of the luxury industry, Milan’s Court of Justice found that “a generalized manufacturing method” and a callous approach to respecting established labor laws was resulting in workers risking their lives in the interest of boosting profit margins. As a direct result, Milan’s Court of Justice has proposed an Italy-wide plan that would attempt to regulate and enforce labor laws within the leading luxury industry providers of the world.

In fact, Italy alone accounts for over half of the world’s production when it comes to the luxury industry, making Milan’s Court of Justice’s inquiries and proposed plan that much more crucial to Italy’s economy and the world’s luxury products at large. During their probe, several sweatshops were found with ties to leading luxury industry providers. These sweatshops sported exploitative conditions, in which workers were left to work, eat, sleep, and operate machines that had had many safety precautions outright removed, all in the name of expediting the engineering process and increasing output and profits.

Milan’s Court of Justice prosecutors allege that by exploiting these workers and having some work illegally long shifts of up to fifteen hours straight, they found that a given supplier could then charge a prestigious luxury brand such as Dior as little as 53 euros for a handbag that retails at 2,600 euros. In earlier probes, investigators found that workers were being paid a mere 2–3 euros per hour while making bags sold to other suppliers for 93 euros and then re-sold to Armani for 250 euros, resulting in costing about 1,800 euros on the actual market. It’s a supply chain issue in which the common person is exploited at every turn.

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According to the president of Milan’s court system, Fabio Roia, the Court of Justice’s proposed plan would remedy these issues and enforce strict adherence to labor laws. “We’ve noticed companies don’t invest enough in their control systems. It is, first and foremost, a problem of culture, like tax evasion.”

In this way, Milan’s Court of Justice seeks to solve many of the issues currently plaguing the luxury industry and come down hard on those seeking to exploit their workers in the interest of profits. “Business owners unfortunately don’t normally question why certain goods or services cost so little. They simply seize the chance to maximize profit,” which results in high costs for consumers and inexcusably exploitative working conditions for the workers.

Roia concludes, “If we managed to eradicate labor exploitation, profits would diminish, but there could be legal competition among businesses.”